After ordering a probe into the money spent on white topping of Bengaluruâ€™s roads, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has now directed officials to probe the alleged discrepancies in subsidies issued to contractors for the Indira Canteens.
Yediyurappa, on Monday, directed Karnataka Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department, BH Anil Kumar, to initiate a probe into the matter. The Chief Minister also directed Vijay Bhaskar to look into alleged irregularities of money spent on the Nagarothana scheme, an infrastructure development project that was started in 2016 by the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Yediyurappa has ordered the Chief Secretary to submit the investigation report within three months.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has awarded the contract of running 174 Indira Centeens and 15 mobile canteens to two companies â€“ Cheftalk Food & Hospitality Services Pvt Ltd and Rewards. According to the Chief Ministerâ€™s letter to the Chief Secretary, the state government is paying the two contractors Rs 6,82,82,373 in the form of subsidies.
â€śIn the 174 Indira Canteens and 15 mobile canteens, 62.7 lakh people consume food every month. According to the bills generated by the contractors, every month, they are spending Rs 6,82,81,373. This information has been falsely furnished and there is a large discrepancy in the amount spent and the amount billed,â€ť the Chief Ministerâ€™s letter reads.
According to Padmanabha Reddy, the BJP Leader of Opposition in the BBMP Council, the suspicion arose when Cheftalk and Rewards began billing the same amount every month. â€śSee, how can one believe that the same number of people consumed breakfast, lunch and dinner for over a year and there was not a single difference in footfalls even for one month? These companies have been blindly billing BBMP,â€ť Padmanabha Reddy told TNM.
In addition, sources in the government said that the state government is mulling over changing the contractors for the canteens. The 2019-2020 budget has not allocated any funds for the Indira Canteens and the previous government led by HD Kumaraswamy had instructed BBMP to bear the costs.
â€śBBMP cannot afford to bear all costs for Indira Canteens. We have requested the Finance Department to bear half the costs at least. Currently, there is an outstanding bill of over Rs 30 crore for the Indira Canteen contractors. This year alone, BBMP has spent Rs 200 crore to the contractors from our own money,â€ť said BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar.
Probe into Nagarothana Scheme
According to the letter directed to the Additional Chief Secretary, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has ordered him to probe the monetary clearances issued by the State High Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC) for the Nagarothana Scheme.
In 2016, then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced the ambitious Nagarothana Scheme, which aimed at infrastructure development in Bengaluru and other two-tier cities in Karnataka. The Nagarothana Scheme in Bengaluru alone was allotted Rs 7,300 crore. In order to ensure that the monetary clearances were done in a speedy manner, Siddaramaiah had set up the SHLCC, which he headed.
With the coalition governmentâ€™s collapse, Yediyurappa is now launching probes into the money spent by Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy on infrastructure projects that were undertaken during their time as Chief Ministers of Karnataka.
â€śThe high-level clearance committee has allotted 32% more money to the contractors than was necessary for the Nagarothana scheme. I am ordering you (Chief Secretary) to conduct a probe into how much money was given to these contractors as opposed to the actual cost of these projects. I expect the investigation report by the end of three months,â€ť BS Yediyurappaâ€™s letter to Vijay Bhaskar states.
The project for Bengaluru included development of four stormwater valleys in six packages at a cost of around Rs 800 crore and stormwater drain de-silting projects worth Rs 171 crore. The probe will also include the reconstruction of 25 roads under TenderSURE, mainly in Gandhinagar and surrounding areas, white-topping scheme, lake rejuvenation and creation of solid waste management plants.